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What school districts have to look forward to

From San Antonio:

The San Antonio Independent School District is bracing for $33 million to $55 million in cuts for the coming fiscal year, due mainly to the state budget shortfall.

The trustees Tuesday night discussed options to reduce costs during a “funding crisis” meeting, including:

• Outsourcing some services.
• Trimming the school week to four days.
• Switching from full-day pre-K to half-day and charging tuition for families who want to continue with a full day.
• Eliminating some positions, including campus instructional coordinators, teaching specialists and textbook clerks, placing those employees in vacant positions where possible.
• Eliminating food at meetings and trimming district travel and cell phone stipends.
• Cutting the number of days some employees work.
• Consolidating some specialty schools.

Spending cuts are playing out in districts across Texas, and SAISD Superintendent Robert Durón said he wanted to be upfront with employees.

“I don’t stay awake at night worrying about giving people bad news,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what should keep all of us awake is if we know there’s bad news and we wait to tell our employees about it.”

Trustee Ed Garza said “there is no job that is secure” in the district.

From Austin:

Hundreds of people carrying signs with messages such as “Save our school” greeted a task force with anger, tears and pleas Wednesday at a meeting held to let the community sound off about a list of preliminary options for making the Austin school district more efficient including closing nine schools.

Even before the forums started, the politically sensitive issue had put the district in a political vise, the squeeze coming from grass-roots efforts by neighborhoods and parents and from the city’s highest office — and the issue is still several weeks away from a formal school board vote.

The 72-member task force was formed last year as the school board prepared for reduced revenue as a result of the stalled economy and a projected $27 billion state budget shortfall. The task force, charged with helping the district identify ways to run more efficiently, put forth an early proposal to close Barton Hills, Brooke, Joslin, Oak Springs, Ortega, Pease, Sanchez and Zilker elementary schools and Pearce Middle School.

The forum Wednesday prompted PTAs at Ortega and Sanchez to send busloads of children to hold signs pleading that their schools be saved.

Even Mayor Lee Leffingwell jumped in the fray, saying he had received hundreds of calls during the past several days. The city has been trying to reduce suburban sprawl and encourage growth in Austin’s urban core, he said in a statement Wednesday, adding: “The prospect of closing successful central city schools clearly runs counter to our community’s long-term planning goals.”

There are two important things to keep in mind here. One is that no matter how much you hate what your school board and school superintendent are talking about possibly doing, they’re not doing it because they want to. They’re doing it because the Legislature and Governor Perry are forcing them to do it by making cuts to public education instead of finding a way to provide an adequate level of funding. Please don’t misdirect your anger over this. And two, despite all the bloviating you have heard and will continue to hear from Perry, Greg Abbott, and pretty much every other Republican elected official in this state about how things like the Affordable Care Act and EPA enforcement of clean air laws will be “job killers”, the direct result of the budget that these same Republicans will adopt in a few months will be the loss of thousands of jobs in Texas. They need to be held responsible for the decisions they are making.

UPDATE: Greg cites Grapevine-Colleyville as another example.

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One Comment

  1. Ross says:

    Gee, just like my employer, these large bureaucracies will have to examine every cost, and find some to cut. It is possible to get everything done with less staff.